pasted image 0 (1)The RSPCA is “delighted” with how public bodies continued to prioritise animal welfare amid the Covid-19 pandemic – as the charity gives out 73 awards as part of its prestigious PawPrints scheme.

The charity has announced those public bodies recognised for going above and beyond statutory minimums in how they promote welfare – including in their approaches to dealing with stray dogs and planning for local emergencies.

PawPrints – formerly known as the Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) – was first established in 2008; and recognises service provision which is “too often not celebrated”.

Awards are divided into five PawPrint categories, awarded to bronze, silver or gold standard. They recognise the achievements of public service organisations for their stray dog services, contingency planning, housing policy, animal activity licensing and kennelled dog welfare.

Four special recognition awards have also been awarded in 2021 – with a particular focus on how services were maintained or developed in the face of the pandemic and challenging coronavirus-related restrictions.

In total, 33 organisations landed a ‘Stray Dog’ PawPrint – including an impressive 32 to gold standard. Twelve organisations were recognised for their contingency planning measures, 11 for their approach to housing, nine for licensing and four for kenneling.

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary adviser at the RSPCA, said: “Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, we know local authorities, emergency services and other public bodies have been under more pressure than ever before.

“We’re overwhelmed and delighted to see how many continued to find a way to prioritise animal welfare – often in the face of staff shortages, challenging budget restrictions and having to adapt amid the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“This is a heartening reminder that even in the most challenging times, so many of our public bodies still want to do the right thing for animals. From proactive work to encourage responsible pet ownership, live planning exercises, timely inspections, subsidised pet neutering and more, it’s a big paws up from us to these public bodies whose work for animals is too often not celebrated.”

Four special recognition awards were given out – to Cardiff Council’s Cardiff Dogs Home, and their associated charity The Rescue Hotel, to Croydon Council’s dog warden, to Westminster City Council’s animal welfare officer and to dog wardens at Wiltshire Council.

Cardiff Council’s special recognition accolade followed the recent opening of a purpose-built veterinary facility on site both for dogs in their care and the wider community; providing affordable neutering, dentals, vaccinations and flea/worm treatment.

Special recognition was also given to Wiltshire Council after the authority made great efforts to work locally with vets and charities to ensure all dogs found straying are checked for a chip and registered with the Council. They also enhanced communication with the public via a new Facebook group, which has promoted important messages about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, dog fouling and what to do if a dog is attacked.

Croydon Council, meanwhile, has earned special praise from the RSPCA for the way in which the dog warden service was maintained throughout the pandemic, including strict new safety protocols, while continuing to provide behavioural, training and welfare advice to owners remotely via email and video conferencing.

Westminster City Council’s animal warden service has also been recognised – with one animal welfare staff member becoming a trained mental health first aider during the pandemic to better understand and support pet owning residents who have mental health conditions. The Council also engaged with residents on issues such as unlicensed breeding and puppy buying, and pet theft; while a new street entertainment and busking policy stops animals being used in performances.

Rachel added: “We’ve issued four special recognition awards this year – to staff at Cardiff, Croydon, Westminster City and Wiltshire. These pay tribute to the inspiring work many staff have done in keeping services going. It’s testimony to the dedication that some services have grown over the last year or so; or adapted to new ways of living.”

The full list of winners is:

Special Recognition

Croydon Council

Special Recognition

Westminster City Council

Special Recognition

Wiltshire Council

Special Recognition

Cardiff Council – Cardiff Dogs Home
The Rescue Hotel

Stray dogs

Gold

Adur and Worthing Councils

Stray dogs

Gold

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Breckland Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Cornwall County Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Croydon Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Dacorum Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Forest of Dean District Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Gravesham Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Hartlepool Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Kingston Upon Hull City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

London Borough of Hackney

Stray dogs

Gold

London Borough of Lambeth

Stray dogs

Gold

London Borough of Newham

Stray dogs

Gold

London Borough of Wandsworth

Stray dogs

Gold

Luton Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Mansfield District Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Medway Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Northumberland County Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Portsmouth City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Preston City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Public Protection Partnership

Stray dogs

Gold

Stockton on Tees Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Stroud District Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Swale Borough Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Westminster City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Wiltshire Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Winchester City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Wirral Council

Stray dogs

Silver

Cambridge City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Cardiff Council – Cardiff Dogs Home

Stray dogs

Gold

Newport City Council

Stray dogs

Gold

Shared Regulatory Services

Contingency Planning

Gold

Association of Greater Manchester Authorities

Contingency Planning

Gold

Camden Council

Contingency Planning

Gold

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council

Contingency Planning

Gold

London Borough of Redbridge Council

Contingency Planning

Gold

London Borough of Waltham Forest Council

Contingency Planning

Gold

Swale Borough Council

Contingency Planning

Bronze

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Contingency Planning

Bronze

Medway Council

Contingency Planning

Bronze

Stroud District Council

Contingency Planning

Bronze

Westminster City Council

Contingency Planning

Gold

Monmouthshire County Council

Contingency Planning

Bronze

Cardiff Council

Housing

Gold

Anchor Hanover

Housing

Gold

Dacorum Borough Council

Housing

Gold

Housing Leeds, Leeds City Council

Housing

Gold

London Borough of Wandsworth

Housing

Gold

Sussex Housing & Care

Housing

Gold

Victory Homes (part of Flagship Group)

Housing

Gold

West Kent Housing Association

Housing

Gold

Westminster City Council

Housing

Silver

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Housing

Bronze

Tendring District Council

Housing

Silver

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association

Licensing

Gold

City of London Corporation

Licensing

Gold

London Borough of Lambeth

Licensing

Gold

Westminster City Council

Licensing

Gold

Winchester City Council

Licensing

Silver

Wirral Council

Licensing

Bronze

East Hertfordshire District Council

Licensing

Bronze

Guildford Borough Council

Licensing

Bronze

Stroud District Council

Licensing

Silver

Shared Regulatory Services

Kenneling

Gold

Bath Cats and Dogs Home

Kenneling

Silver

Cardiff Council – Cardiff Dogs Home

Kenneling

Bronze

Shared Regulatory Services

Kenneling

Bronze

Hope Rescue

The awards have the backing of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. They’ve also drawn support from the Local Government Association in England; and the Welsh Local Government Association and Welsh Government in Wales.